Trump signs tax over­haul

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By LAU­RIE KELLMAN and JONATHAN LEMIRE

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed the $1.5 tril­lion tax over­haul into law Fri­day, using his last mo­ments in the White House be­fore fly­ing to Florida for the hol­i­days to cel­e­brate a much-needed po­lit­i­cal win.

He also signed a tem­po­rar y spend­ing bill to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning and pro­vide money to up­grade the na­tion’s mis­sile

de­fenses. The tax cut, which ful­filled a long-held Repub­li­can goal, was at the fore­front of Trump’s mind.

Start­ing next year, the new law will give big cuts to cor­po­ra­tion and wealthy Amer­i­cans, and more mod­est re­duc­tions to other fam­i­lies. Trump con­tin­ued to pitch it as a win a for the mid­dle class, in­sist­ing that even though polling in­di­cates the tax cut is un­pop­u­lar, “the num­bers will speak” for them­selves.

“I don’t think we are go­ing to have to do much sell­ing,” Trump told re­porters in the Oval Of­fice.

The tax law is the largest since 1986, but far from the big­gest in Amer­i­can his­tory, as the pres­i­dent re­peat­edly claims. It also is pro­jected to add to the na­tion’s debt, some­thing that was anath­ema to Repub­li­cans for years.

Pas­sage of the tax bill marked a sig­nif­i­cant vic­tory for a pres­i­dent hun­gry for one af­ter chaos and leg­isla­tive fail­ures dur­ing his first year in of­fice — in­clud­ing an ef­fort to re­peal for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law — de­spite Repub­li­can con­trol of Congress. Trump also ended the year with his sights still trained on the way the me­dia treat him, tweet­ing that the main­stream me­dia “NEVER talk about our ac­com­plish­ments in the end of year re­views.”

“We are com­pil­ing a long @ beau­ti­ful list,” he tweeted.

Trump said he orig­i­nally planned to sign the tax bill early next year but moved it up on the spur of the mo­ment af­ter watch­ing me­dia cov­er­age Fri­day morn­ing about the leg­is­la­tion. Af­ter fin­ish­ing the bill sign­ings, he was off to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, his plane leav­ing Joint Base An­drews in Mary­land just be­fore noon EST.

The first ma­jor over­haul of the na­tion’s tax laws since 1986 could add $1.5 tril­lion to the na­tional debt over the next decade, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice. Repub­li­can lead­ers have said they’re will­ing to take that step in pur­suit of a boost to the econ­omy. But some in the GOP worry their party could face a po­lit­i­cal back­lash with­out an ag­gres­sive public re­la­tions tour.

Trump, mean­while, con­tin­ued to send mixed mes­sages about his de­sire to work across the aisle. In the Oval Of­fice, he con­tended anew that Democrats “don’t like tax cuts, they want to raise your taxes.”

But that came just hours af­ter he tweeted a pitch for bi­par­ti­san­ship: “At some point, and for the good of the coun­try, I pre­dict we will start work­ing with the Democrats in a bi­par­ti­san fash­ion. In­fra­struc­ture would be a per­fect place to start . ... It is time to start re­build­ing our coun­try!”

Some White House aides and Repub­li­can lead­ers are look­ing war­ily ahead at the midterm elec­tion year, when typ­i­cally a pres­i­dent’s party loses seats in Congress. That’s all the more true for pres­i­dents whose ap­proval rat­ings dip be­low 50 per­cent, and Trump’s have never been that high.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the new tax law that they see as the GOP’s top talk­ing point is un­pop­u­lar. Only about 1 in 3 vot­ers have sup­ported the leg­is­la­tion in re­cent days, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral polls. About half of Amer­i­cans be­lieve the plan will hurt their per­sonal fi­nances. And 2 in 3 vot­ers say the wealthy will get the most ben­e­fits, ac­cord­ing to a USA To­day/Suf­folk Univer­sity poll re­leased last week.

Start­ing next year, fam­i­lies mak­ing be­tween $50,000 and $75,000 will get av­er­age tax cuts of $890, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by the non­par­ti­san Tax Pol­icy Cen­ter. Fam­i­lies mak­ing be­tween $100,000 and $200,000 would get av­er­age tax cuts of $2,260, while fam­i­lies mak­ing more than $1 mil­lion would get av­er­age tax cuts of nearly $70,000, ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis.

But if the cuts for in­di­vid­u­als are al­lowed to ex­pire, most Amer­i­cans — those mak­ing less than $75,000 — would see tax in­creases in 2027, ac­cord­ing to con­gres­sional es­ti­mates.

Only high-in­come peo­ple would get a mean­ing­ful tax cut af­ter 2025, when nearly all of the plan’s in­di­vid­ual in­come tax pro­vi­sions are due to ex­pire.

Repub­li­cans ar­gue that the mid­dle class will see ben­e­fits from the busi­ness tax cuts, in the form of more jobs and higher wages.

Democrats say that’s not likely to hap­pen, that the tax cuts are sim­ply a boon to wealthy Amer­i­cans like Trump and leave lower-in­come fam­i­lies in a lurch.

AP PHOTO/EVAN VUCCI

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dis­plays the $1.5 tril­lion tax over­haul pack­age he had just signed Fri­day, Dec. 22, in the Oval Of­fice of the White House in Wash­ing­ton. Trump touted the size of the tax cut, declar­ing to re­porters in the Oval Of­fice be­fore he signed it Fri­day that “the num­bers will speak.”

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